Goldberg v. Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., 125 Cal. App. 4th 752 (2005)

Ilene Goldberg sued her former employer, Warner/Chappell Music, and her former supervisor for wrongful termination, discrimination, and retaliation for “whistle blowing,” among other things. Goldberg moved to disqualify Warner’s counsel, the law firm of Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp LLP (MS&K), on the ground that six years earlier she had consulted with an MS&K partner who had left the firm three years prior to the commencement of the lawsuit. The trial court denied the disqualification motion, and the Court of Appeal affirmed on the grounds that there was no need for vicarious disqualification of MS&K based upon Goldberg’s meeting with a former MS&K partner who had left the firm years before the instant litigation arose and there was no evidence that the former partner had actually passed any confidential information about Goldberg to any of the remaining MS&K attorneys. (The Court was persuaded in part by ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.10(b), which permits adverse representation in a situation such as the one presented here.)